Ex-pastor posts $10,000 bond after arrest for misusing church funds

| May 24, 2013

A former Gatlinburg pastor is now facing felony theft charges based on allegations he misused money from his church’s day care center, forcing it to close.

Ronald W. Lukat, 65, of 103 Money Maker Circle in Gatlinburg, is charged with theft over $1,000 after a grand jury returned a sealed presentment against him this week.

He was aware of the charges against him, however, and records at the sheriff’s office indicate he turned himself in about 7 p.m. He was released after posting $10,000 bond, and has hired Sevierville attorney Bryan Delius to represent him.

Lukat was the pastor of Gatlinburg Presbyterian Church from early 2011 until last December, when church members said they became aware of irregularities in the account used by their Child Care Center.

They said Lukat volunteered to oversee the center’s finances when the center’s treasurer stepped down, not long after the pastor’s arrival. That left Lukat in possession of a credit card used to purchase supplies for the center, as well as overseeing its fiances.

Their investigation indicated that Lukat owed $3,600 in credit card fees they believed had been used for personal expenses and had never been repaid. Church officials have also said that the center owes $40,000 in unpaid federal taxes additional state unemployment taxes that Lukat never paid.



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Category: Church Security

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